Former soldier Chris Lait of The Drake Academy, which offers corporate training, development and reward programmes, benefited from a business grant from the Royal British Legion.
How did you find out about the Royal British Legion government grant?
When you leave the Armed Forces you go through a resettlement process and you’ll be given various advisors through the system. I told one of them that I wanted to start my own business and he said I should consider seeing if I can get assistance from the Royal British Legion, which will give some businesses funding in a part grant, part loan format.
What is the application process to get the business grant?
It’s mostly a web-based application. You start by claiming £250 to do some market research and you can make a further application for up to £7,500. 75 per cent of that is a loan and 25 per cent a grant. I had to fill out a series of forms, present a business plan and provide then with some other basic forecasts.
What did you spend the money on?
The first £250 had to be spent on market research so I set up a focus group. It wasn’t quite the audience I would have liked but I was never going to get my ideal turnout as my audience is large corporates, and I’m not sure how many HR directors would have given up their time to listen to my proposal. So I took the next best thing and got the type of sales staff who I envisage being the recipients of a training programme.
I’ve started spending the rest on marketing materials. We’ve got a pitch to Santander next week, and I’ve put together a 24-page brochure in preparation.
What are the other benefits?
A good part of the process is you get aligned with a business consultancy and they go through your business plan and profit and loss accounts. That’s really helpful – even if you don’t get a grant at the end, you still get some advice out of it.